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Friday, December 11, 2015

HOW THEATER CAN SAVE YOUR SANITY

Yours Truly as Jacob Marley in "Scrooge and Marley"
Welcome to theater is a sport.  My name is Bobby Keniston, and I will be your host.

When I first moved back to my home town of Dover-Foxcroft, ME, about seven years ago, I was in a pretty bad way.  I had just gone through a broken engagement, couldn't keep a job where I was living, or, at least not a job that paid enough for me to have my own apartment.  I came back to my parents house, and, to be honest, I was pretty depressed.  My days consisted of the following:

*Eating
*Filling out applications for jobs I didn't really want
*Staying in my room, watching TV
*Missing my ex
*Staring at the TV without really watching
*Eating

Not a great time in my life.  I rarely went outside, even though it was getting close to autumn, my favorite season, I didn't really talk to anyone except for my parents.

Since I had been gone, a place called the Center Theatre had come to fruition in my hometown.  I knew a little bit about it--- when I was in college, a group of people had started the dream of fixing up the decrepit old theater of yesteryear, and creating a facility to celebrate the arts in our small town. I was now in my early thirties, and the place had been functional for a few years by the time I got home.  I noticed the difference in high school kids I would run across.  Theater was now something they were being exposed to, which is a very good thing.

There was a casting notice for the Christmas play.  It was an adaptation of A Christmas Carol called Scrooge and Marley by Israel Horovitz.  It's the story that everyone knows, only in this adaptation, Jacob Marley serves as a narrator, or Greek Chorus if you will, to the audience.

I had no intention of auditioning.  That would mean leaving my room.  My parents kept encouraging me to just go down and audition, to get out of the house.  "I don't know any of these people anymore," I said.  "Why should I bother?," I said.

But, whether it was because of my parents' prodding or some inner voice that knew me too well, I did end up auditioning.  And, since I was auditioning for someone who I had never worked with and who didn't know my work (now a dear friend named Rhonda Kirkpatrick), I was nervous.  For the first time in a long time, I was nervous to audition.  And that's a good thing.

Why is that a good thing?, you may ask.  A few reasons.  It gave me a sense of inner stakes.  I wanted to do well, which means, all of a sudden, as I waited for my turn to audition, I wanted a part.  I wanted to impress this new director I'd never worked with.  And, the right amount of nervousness ensures that you are taking it seriously, want to do a good job, keeps you on your toes.

Long story short, I got the part.  Now, this did magically turn my life around and make me a shiny, happy person again over night.  No, not necessarily.  But it gave me something to focus on.  And I was focusing on something that I love to do--- create a character, work towards a performance, and lose myself for a little while.

And, as days went by, and I attended rehearsals, I met more and more people, made some new friends, reconnected with some old ones, and, yes, I was smiling and laughing again.

Don't underestimate this one true fact:  THE ACT OF CREATION CAN SAVE YOU.  It has me, time and time again.  It is an outlet, a chance to work with people from all different backgrounds with the common goal of CREATING SOMETHING GOOD.  Something positive.  Something to share with the world for moments in time.

My funk lifted.  I felt better, stronger, appreciated.

So if you're blue, or going through a rough time, or just bored with the same old routine, keep your eyes open on local community theater auditions.  Get involved.  If you don't want to be onstage, volunteer to work backstage.  You will automatically become a part of something that will transport you.  It won't solve all your problems, nothing does that, but it will help your problems seem less intense, more manageable.

And that's why I love the theater so much.

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